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Lightweight Haney KOs Moran in seventh round

OXON HILL, Md. — Lightweight mega-prospect Devin Haney was supposed to get the toughest test of his career from Antonio Moran on Saturday at the MGM National Harbor, but he got nothing of the sort.

Instead, the 20-year-old turned in a dominating performance that concluded with a massive right hand to the chin for a one-punch knockout-of-the-year candidate in the seventh round against an opponent who had never previously been stopped.

“I think that was a beautiful shot. That was probably my best shot,” Haney said. “I feel great with my overall performance. I used my jab, broke him down to the body and knocked him out. Coming into this fight, I wanted to make a statement. There were a lot of rumors going around that I didn’t have any punching power and I can’t knock anyone out. But as you see, I can.”

Haney, No. 7 on the 2018 ESPN top prospect list, was supposed to fight in the co-feature of the DAZN card but was moved to the main event because cruiserweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk, the 2018 fighter of the year, who was due to make his heavyweight debut against former world title challenger Carlos Takam, suffered a biceps injury three weeks ago and withdrew.

Haney (22-0, 14 KOs), of Las Vegas, whom many fancy as the next American boxing star, turned in a performance worthy of a main event as he thoroughly dominated noted tough guy Moran (24-4, 17 KOs), 26, of Mexico. Moran had given former two-division world titlist Jose Pedraza an extremely tough fight in a close decision loss last June and rebounded with a knockout victory in December in Mexico, but he was no match for Haney.

“Where I come from in England, if we had a star like this, the country would be going mad. So you guys need to get behind Devin Haney because let me tell you, America has a superstar on their hands,” said Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who recently signed Haney. “He is 20 years old. He is 22-0. They say he doesn’t carry power, but he is taking guys out like that. Jose Pedraza struggled against that guy, a champion who went the distance with [Vasiliy] Lomachenko. That was like watching an artist draw a beautiful picture and then at the end just sign his name off and walk away into the night.”

Haney’s speed and power advantages were evident in the opening round, when he rocked the taller and longer Moran with a right hand, forcing him to hold.

Haney landed fast punches with both hands, counter-punched well and avoided most of the incoming punches.

Overall, Haney landed 99 of 324 punches, according to CompuBox. Moran connected with just 33 of 336 (10 percent).

By the third round, Moran had swelling over his left eye from eating so many shots.

Haney had a huge fifth round in which he dropped Moran with a right hand to the body — though he did step on his foot as the punch landed — about a minute into the round and then landed numerous clean right hands in the follow-up attack to repeatedly rock Moran.

In the sixth round, Haney turned out the lights when he landed a full-force overhand right to the chin that left Moran slithering to the canvas in a heap along the ropes and caused referee Kenny Chevalier to stop it without a count at 2 minutes, 32 seconds. Moran was down for several minutes receiving medical attention.

“I have a lot of punching power and speed. I got everything,” Haney said. “I knew this was a big opportunity, and on paper this was my toughest test. I felt like I was ready for a world title fight before this, and now I definitely feel I am ready for one.”

Hrgovic blows away Corbin

In the co-feature, heavyweight Filip Hrgovic, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist from Croatia and one of boxing’s top prospects, blew away Greg Corbin in the first round.

In his first fight since signing a co-promotional deal to bring in Matchroom Boxing with Team Sauerland, the 6-foot-6, 242-pound Hrgovic (8-0, 6 KOs), 26, needed only 60 seconds to smash Corbin with a single overhand right to the head in his first fight in the United States.

Corbin went down flat on his back but got to his feet by the count of eight, but he was unsteady, and referee Brent Bovell stopped the fight.

“Greg Corbin is a really good fighter. Thank you to him for taking on this challenge,” Hrgovic said. “It is an honor for me to box in this great country and arena. Thank you to all the fans who came out here. You didn’t have time to see the best Hrgovic. I look forward to big fights, strong opponents and to give the U.S. really good fights.”

The loss was the second in a row for Corbin (15-2, 9 KOs), 38, of Dallas, who was coming off an eighth-round disqualification loss for repeatedly hitting former world titlist Charles Martin with low blows on the March 16 Errol Spence Jr.-Mikey Garcia undercard.

Hunter blitzes Maldonado

Heavyweight contender Michael Hunter blew away overmatched Fabio Maldonado in the second round, scoring a win in the same ring in which he suffered his only career loss challenging Usyk for a cruiserweight world title in April 2017.

Hunter (17-1, 12 KOs), 30, of Las Vegas, won his fifth fight in a row at heavyweight since that loss and made it look easy.

“I just tried to use my quickness, my speed and my ability. I knew I had the agile footwork over him, so I just wanted to use that to be impressive,” Hunter said.

Trained by former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, Hunter, who had been in the running to land the shot at unified titlist Anthony Joshua next week, badly hurt Maldonado with a right hand in the second round that was the beginning of the end. He landed two more right hands that sent Maldonado into the ropes for what referee Harvey Dock ruled a knockdown because the ropes had kept him upright.

Maldonado tried desperately to hold, but Hunter blasted him with an uppercut that sent him to his knees. Hunter then landed more punches that sent the unsteady Maldonado falling face-first into the ring post as Dock waved off the fight at 1 minute, 45 seconds.

Hunter said he hopes to eventually land a shot at Joshua.

“I would love that fight at any time,” Hunter said. “I want to fight Joshua next. He is the cash cow, and it’s an easy fight to make. We are both on Matchroom and DAZN. It should be easy to make that next. I’d like to fight Dillian Whyte if I couldn’t get AJ next.”

Maldonado (26-3, 25 KOs), 39, of Brazil, lost his third fight in a row, but the others were decisions to undefeated opponents in Oscar Rivas and Oleksandr Teslenko.

McCaskill unifies in slugfest

Chicago’s Jessica McCaskill and Argentina’s Anahi Sanchez engaged in an all-out slugfest in their women’s junior welterweight world title unification fight, but it was McCaskill who won a unanimous decision on surprisingly wide scores of 99-91 and 98-92 along with 96-94.

“It was for sure nonstop. I got punched in the throat, so excuse my voice, but Anahi has great accuracy and solid power,” McCaskill said. “She sure wasn’t afraid to fight and mix it up. The scorecards were a little drastic, and I don’t like when that happens to me when I go somewhere else, so respect to Anahi.”

Sanchez was not pleased with the wide scores.

“I don’t think the judges gave me any love on the scorecards,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “I was getting hit low, I was getting head-butted, but I didn’t get any love from the judges or the referee.”

From the opening bell, McCaskill (7-2, 3 KOs), 34, and Sanchez (19-4, 11 KOs), 27, both of whom were making their first title defenses and had lost decisions to Katie Taylor in lightweight title fights, made it a slugfest, swapping clean punches with little regard for defense.

Sanchez blasted McCaskill with a right hand that rocked her at the end of the seventh round. Then she was rocked with a right hand from McCaskill at the end of the eighth round and nearly dropped with an onslaught as the ninth came to an end. The 10th round was more of the same as they hammered each other at close range until the final bell.

• Welterweight Daniyar Yeleussinov (7-0, 3 KOs), 28, a southpaw who won a 2016 Olympic gold medal for Kazakhstan, got in a good workout in a spirited but one-sided decision against late-notice opponent Luis Norambuena (3-2-1, 0 KOs), 27, a Chile native fighting out of Morgan Hill, California, who dropped his second fight in a row. Two judges had it a 60-54 shutout, and one had it 59-55.

• Baltimore super middleweight Lorenzo “Truck” Simpson (4-0, 3 KOs), 19, ran over Rafael Garcia (9-3, 6 KOs), 30, of Tucson, Arizona, with a one-sided first-round destruction. Simpson ended the fight with five consecutive left uppercuts and a right hand that sent Garcia crashing into the ropes, causing referee Harvey Dock to stop it at 1 minute, 19 seconds.

• Lightweight Luis Gerardo Perez (6-2-1, 1 KO), 20, of Mexico, pulled the mild upset with a six-round decision win against Baltimore’s Mack Allison (9-3-1, 7 KOs), 21. It was an all-out slugfest for the entire fight that Perez won 59-55 on all three scorecards to end a two-fight losing streak in which he had been knocked out both times.

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team